We’re kind of obsessed with tacos al pastor at our house. One of our favorite spots in Austin, Fonda San Miguel, makes hands-down the best version, so during this time when we’re mostly staying home and can’t get our Fonda fix, we had to master our own homemade version. And this, my friends, is it.
One google search will turn up a lot of different versions of tacos al pastor, and I won’t claim that this is a totally traditional version, but it does stay true to the classic combo of pork, pineapple, and onions.
I marinate slices of pork shoulder in a sweet chili glaze for a few hours, then season and toss on the grill for that charred on the outside, tender on the inside perfection.
Traditionally, tacos al pastor is made with spit-grilled pork, similar to a shawarma or gyro found throughout Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s a popular street food throughout Mexico, and seasonings typically include some combination of dried chilies, spices like garlic and cumin, pineapple, and achiote paste. The meat is thinly sliced from the spit and folded into a warm corn tortilla with chopped onions, cilantro, and diced pineapple.
Since most of us don’t have a spit at home, I wanted to create a version that captured the essence of the tacos al pastor that I’ve loved at so many restaurants but was easy enough for weeknight dinner. A good friend of mine frequently cooks tacos al pastor for her Mexican community in Austin, and she told me that she makes hers on a cast iron griddle, and adds a salsa verde made with avocado, limes, and cilantro. On the Fonda San Miguel version that I mentioned above, they add shredded lettuce for a fresh crunch that I love. I took all of that inspiration and created what has become my family’s new favorite. Though I’d love to try the real deal in Mexico someday.
Scroll on for the recipe, and watch me make it start to finish in the video below.
30 minutes (plus a few hours for marinating) minutes
for the marinade:
- 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce or 1 tablespoon achiote seasoning
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
for the tacos:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, sliced 3/4-inch thick
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch rings
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 12 corn tortillas, charred over grill or gas burner
- for garnish: cilantro, hot sauce, lime wedges
- First, make the marinade: Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake it up.
- Place the sliced pork shoulder in a baking pan or a gallon-sized ziploc. Pour marinade over, turn to coat, then place in fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat grill to medium. Remove pork from marinade and season with salt and chili powder. Cook for 7 minutes per side, or until slices are cooked through to desired doneness. I like mine charred on the outside with just a touch of pink on the inside.
- When the pork has 5 minutes left on the grill, add the pineapple and grill for a couple minutes per side, until char marks appear. Remove pork and let rest. Remove pineapple and chop.
- Slice pork 1/2" thick against the grain, then serve in tortillas with pineapple, onion, cilantro, hot sauce, and a squeeze of lime. Eat!